From Student to Teacher: Rockette Sarah and NYCDA
By Rockette Sarah G.
Growing up in Columbus, Ohio, we often had to travel to larger cities on the weekends for dance conventions and competitions. My studio attended New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) every other year, if not every year, for a regional convention weekend as well as Nationals for a week in the summer in New York City. I found myself very fortunate to learn from some of the best teachers and mentors in the dance community—and I also have to give my mother credit for the long hours she spent driving on Friday evenings to get me to a new city for a weekend of non-stop dancing.
While working as a Rockette for the past 11 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to come full circle at NYCDA. I grew up attending this amazing convention in my younger years, and I actually got to spend July 4th this year teaching the youth at NYCDA on two separate occasions! Never in a million years did I think I’d be at the front of the room teaching some of today’s most disciplined and hard-working dancers from all across the nation our Rockettes choreography. To know that these dancers come to New York for not only a week of competing with their dances, but also to take a week of classes on top of competing, is its own feat.
I remember dancing more hours than I slept that entire week of NYCDA Nationals when I was younger. The drive, passion, and constant yearning to be better as a young dancer is something I thrive on when I’m fortunate enough to teach the next generation of Broadway, Off-Broadway, and even Rockette hopefuls.
Through all of this, the thing that stands out to me most is the camaraderie in the dance community. The dance community is one of the most supportive groups of people I’ve ever known. As a teen, I looked to my fellow dancers as my comfort zone when walking into a new class or style that I had never taken or didn’t feel very comfortable doing. There’s just something about being with your friends that makes all the nervous energy and butterflies disappear. Dance is something that almost forces you to let your guard down and be vulnerable, and that’s not something easy to do in your youth. My friends got me through those classes, and I soon forgot that I was even nervous to try something new because I was having so much fun in the process!
The full circle moment here is that I feel the same way now when walking into a room of these future professional dancers with fellow Rockette Sarah by my side. We can pretty much dance the material we are teaching in our sleep because of the amount of practice and rehearsal we’ve had, but there’s something extra comforting knowing that your colleague and good friend is by your side when teaching hundreds of dancers what it’s like to be a Rockette. “Together we’re better” holds true in more ways than one when we teach classes together!
I was grateful to have experienced the long weekends dancing at NYCDA when I was younger, and I’m even more grateful to now be able to be the professional teaching in the front of the room (with a good friend by my side) sharing our knowledge and passion for what we do as Rockettes!